The most victimized by “fake news,” are those who most loudly decry its very existence. They fall prey to it because they don’t have the critical thinking skills needed to identify what it is and to recognize where it’s coming from – that it is being produced by the very same people and organizations they loudly support on the far-right.
Among these purveyors of political propaganda perhaps the most noteworthy is Donald J. Trump, who continues to stand the media on its head by declaring real news to be fake and vice-versa.
And now, rising to yet a new level of deceit, it appears there are those who are going to great lengths to design “leads” on fake news stories. It’s a kind of reverse “phishing” technique aimed at the legitimate media, attempting to get real news organizations hooked on a phony story by planting bogus information so that once the story comes out the alt-right can point its crooked finger at the legitimate media while screaming, “See we told you so! Fake News!”
It appears the legitimate media’s Queen of intellectual power and credibility, Rachel Maddow, was a recent target of this technique.
As “The Hill” reports – “MSNBC host Rachel Maddow warned other media outlets on Thursday that she believes she was provided forged National Security Agency documents alleging collusion between a Trump campaign official and Russia’s efforts to influence last year’s presidential election.
“I feel like I need to send this up like a flare for other news organizations in particular,” Maddow said on her program Thursday night.”
So Maddow and her producers didn’t fall for it. They didn’t get sucked into the vortex of what appeared to be a big story based upon what appeared to be an official document. Good for them. As she pointed out on her show, one wonders who else has taken the bait, or might? One wonders if Dan Rather’s producer at CBS and ultimately Rather himself, might not have been victims of this same tactic?
There are those who might say a media organization will have only itself to blame if it fails to properly check out the information it’s using prior to airing or publishing a story. And they’d be right. However, if those planting the fake story are really good at what they’re doing, if they have unlimited backing from some…oh, let’s call it an “evil empire”…. then it’s a good bet that eventually they will be able to hook somebody with their scheme. Maybe as big a fish as Dan Rather or Rachel Maddow?
With the President of the United States acting as Finger Pointer in Chief, firing off repeated allegations of “fake news” and even suggesting the law should be changed to make it easier to file a lawsuit against the media, our political and media environments are growing stranger by the hour. Every tweet, holds the potential for a new horror, like the latest from Donald Trump Jr., showing Donald Trump in a fighter jet shooting down another jet labeled “CNN.” This is not funny or clever, it is unacceptable behavior that could lead to a member of the press being seriously injured or killed.
Much of this feels like one of those spy novels set in the 60’s, where the KGB was out to get us using anything that worked, be it disinformation, misinformation, blackmail, and probably a few other spy tricks most of us had never thought of, like hacking an American election or buying off highly-placed elected American officials? The principle difference, of course, is that in the 60’s, it was the U.S. Government and the American press that were aligned against the Russians. Now it’s Trump and the Russians, who appear to be aligned against the American press.
Against this backdrop Mr. Trump meets with Vladimir Putin, the President of the United States, still under the influence of what appears to be continued denial with regard to Russian hacking as he agrees to set the hacking issue aside so that they can move forward with their relationship?
Question is, move forward with what? Is the totalitarian Putin going to stop murdering journalists, jailing opposition politicians, invading neighboring countries, supporting a bloodthirsty dictator in Syria even while he promises a partial ceasefire? And Donald Trump, the President of the United States, gives the appearance of being just one more useful idiot as he looks the other way in tacit approval of all that Putin stands for.
According to Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the two sides came away from their two-hour meeting during the G20 Summit, with an agreement to hold further talks, “regarding commitments of noninterference in the affairs of the United States and our democratic process.” It’s important to understand the insanity of believing the United States can work with the Russians on preventing future hacking incidents, when it’s the Russians who are doing the hacking but refuse to admit that it’s taking place. And this apparently, is the “deal” Trump got from Putin. It’s laughable.
Whose best interests does Trump have in mind? Ours, or Putin and his Russian oligarchs? And where do Trump’s business interests fit in? Perhaps even more troubling is the question of whether this President has the intellectual capacity to sort it all out, whether he may be suffering from one or more disabilities that preclude the possibility of rational thought? More than one observer has commented that his personality appears to have been impacted since entering the political process, some saying he is changed man. In addition, his physical well being remains suspect, as we have yet to see anything approaching a comprehensive medical report on his 71 year-old physique.
Is the partial ceasefire real, or nothing but disinformation? A lie that will turn to dust in a few weeks, after Trump has used it as red meat for his base, ostensibly proving that his relationship with Putin has some value after all, while the fact that Mr. Putin is believed to have directed the hacking of an American election will be nothing but an afterthought? Just another bit of fake news. Another Trumpian deflection, targeting an American public who increasingly look like lambs to the slaughter as the Kremlin chalks up one more victory in its ongoing assault on Liberal Democracy.